Torah Pearls #22 – Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20)

Torah Pearls Vayakhel, Exodus 35:1-38:20, Torah Pearls, torah portion, Nehemia Gordon, tabernacle, wilderness, Jewish, hebrewIn this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20), we begin with asking what it means to "kindle a fire" on the Sabbath.  Then we ask what it means for someone's heart to be stirred, and how the various traditions understand this, leading to a wonderful discussion on how and why we give to God. There is a fascinating discussion of the nature of Polygamy in the Torah, which leads to an exciting examination of the nature of Paleo-Hebrew. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #21 – Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35)

Torah Pearls Ki Tisa, Exodus 30:11-34:35, Mount Sinai, stone, tablets, Ten Commandments, Torah Pearls, torah portion, Nehemia GordonIn this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35), we begin with a passionate discussion on "Tradition" vs. Scripture, which leads to the golden calf of the Exodus event.  Who was the calf supposed to represent? There follows a fascinating discussion of God's appearance to Moses, and what we can learn about God from it.  Finally, the trio discuss the very sensitive matter of whether or not Jewish people really do have horns. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #21 – Ki Tisa (1 Kings 18:1-39)

Image courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Prophet Pearls Ki Tisa, 1 Kings 18:1-39, 1 kings, ahab, Elijah, elijah confronts ahab, fire from heaven, haftarah, identity of obadiah, jezebel, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, obadiah, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Prophet PearlsIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, Ki Tisa (1 Kings 18:1-39), Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson convene in Jerusalem to examine the brassiest display of prophetic prowess in the Tanakh. We are drawn into Elijah’s confrontation with Ahab as if for the first time. Hebrew word-plays jump off the page and demand attention. Gordon connects puzzle pieces to propose a fascinating and completely plausible reading of Obadiah’s back story. Who was he and what great news for mankind does he represent? Continue reading

Hebrew Gospel Pearls #13 – How Jewish scribes changed Hebrew Matthew to make it match the Greek

In Hebrew Gospel Pearls #13, Nehemia and Keith discuss how Jewish scribes changed Hebrew Matthew to make it match the Greek, the secret origin of the Hebrew word for praise, and why some Christians interpret the Beatitudes as a replacement for the Ten Commandments. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #20 – Tetzaveh (Ezekiel 43:10-27)

Prophet Pearls Tetzaveh (Ezekiel 43:10-27) with Nehemia Gordon and Keith JohnsonIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, Tetzaveh (Ezekiel 43:10-27), Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss Ezekiel describing the sin offering and the building plan for the Temple. Nehemia and Keith consider whether a spiritual or literal interpretation fits best with the minute details of the plan. We learn the iniquity for which Ezekiel’s listeners were (and we are) to be ashamed of, as well as the literal meanings of “temple” and “synagogue” and that word choice indicates world view. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #20 – Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10)

Kohen Gado, Torah Pearls Tetzaveh, Torah Pearls, Tetzaveh, Exodus 27:20-30:10, torah portion, Nehemia Gordon, priest, temple, incense, tabernacleIn this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10), we begin with a discussion of how modern day synagogues and churches attempt to emulate the commandments for the decoration of the Biblical priests and the Temple.  This leads to an enlightening discussion on the interpretation of Scripture, and who has the right to decide what the scriptures say. Other topics include Josephus's statement that the name of God has four vowels and whether David sinned when he ate the Bread of the Presence. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #19 – Terumah (1 Kings 5:12[26]-6:13)

Prophet Pearls Terumah, 1 Kings, temple, d’veer, haftarah, hewn stones, Keith Johnson, month of ziv, mythical shamir worm, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prophets, shamir, shamir worm, solomon’s temple, terumah, terumah haftarah, terumah prophets, YehovahIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, Terumah (1 Kings 5:12[26]-6:13), Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson provide volumes of contextual insight into this seemingly straight-forward “How to Build a Temple” portion. We learn the importance of the “480 years” date given in this passage, that the forced labor used to build Solomon’s Temple compares favorably to modern practices, and how the coloring of the “hewn stones” beautified the Temple. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #19 – Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19)

Torah Pearls Terumah, Exodus 25:1-27:19, candelabrum, Menorah, tabernacle, Temple, Torah Pearls, torah portion, Temple Institute, menorahThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19). The episode opens with a lively discussion on the difference between tithes and offerings.  There follows a brilliant discussion of the "Mercy Seat" of the Ark, and what that means to different cultures and faiths.  What could have been a boring discussion of the "furniture" in the tabernacle becomes a passionate discussion of the implements that were really contained within the Ark. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #18 – Mishpatim (Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26)

Prophet Pearls Mishpatim, Jeremiah, deror liberty, haftarah, haftarah mishpatim, hebrew word play, hebrew word puns, indentured servants tanakh, Keith Johnson, mishpatim prophets, missing verses in Septuagint, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prophet jeremiah, prophets, slavery in tanakh, spelling Isaac in TanakhIn this episode of Prophet PearlsMishpatim Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26, ever obedient servants of context, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson begin at the beginning—with two verses moved to the end of this Portion by the Rabbis.  In these two verses in which the unfailing laws of nature are equated with God’s promises to Israel, Gordon makes a connection between the theories of physicists and the views of pundits regarding the land of Israel.  Gordon and Johnson further explore why these two verses (and eight others) are missing from the Septuagint and why the spelling of Isaac differs here from elsewhere in the Tanakh. Continue reading